The attack on Mayor of Thessaloniki, Yiannis Boutaris has shocked the democratic world in Greece and abroad. Equally shocking has been the hate speech and incitement to violence by an -unfortunately- large portion of Greeks on social media. And not only. Several diaspora Greeks, poured their poison against Boutaris on social media, specifically on KTG Facebook Page, and even applauded that a 75-year-old man was beaten and kicked even he was on the ground. Reason for the “outrage” of these people was obviously the title of KTG article: “Far-right mob attacks Yiannis Boutaris” posted on late Saturday.
The hate preachers expressed their support to the fact that a mob of mostly young men in rage blindly attacked the mayor of Thessaloniki. The certainly conservative and anti-democratic supporters of blind violence against an elected official used a bag full of argument goodies.
The arguments list they use is relative long and claim that Boutaris was rightly beaten
- for the Macedonia sale off [Foreign policy is not done by a mayor but by Greek gov’t]
- for insulting the Pontus Greek [ he referred to all Asia Minor Greeks, said: I don’t give a sh*t if Kemal killed Greeks].
- for holding a gay pride parade on the day of commemorating the Pontus Greeks Massacre [Gay pride is scheduled June 23]
- for being a friend of Turks, Jews and Albanians [he wants to attract tourists from these countries]
Some also accused him for the illegal migrants in the city …and why not? For all the plagues of the broader area of Macedonia and with direct impact to the fate of Greece.
- The only thing the ultra-nationalists have not accused Boutaris so far is for the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.
Those ultra-nationalists who claim the right to be the only real Greek patriots call Boutaris and everyone who disagrees with them “a traitor.” Just like in the era after the Civil War 1946-1949, just like in the colonels’ junta 1967-1974.
“He is Anti-Hellenic,” Anti-Greek, was one short and light-hearten comment posted on KTG FB Page. A simple word turning on the green light for pure and frenzy violence against an elected official and in extend against everyone the lady does not agree with. I don’t remember if it was the same lady or another one who posted also that “Boutaris wasn’t beaten enough.”
I have deleted several loathsome comments and banned a couple of users.
Fascists are chickens
An interesting observation is that the several commentators denied that it was an organized attack right from the beginning and claimed it was a spontaneous mobilization by “indignant citizens” who attacked the mayor for all reasons mentioned above or that the mob were “poor Greeks” suffering from the economic crisis and the “corruption of the elites,” and the “left-wing government”, and “the bailout” and the list is long … you name a reason, any reason. Typing is free.
Footage has proven that the attack was very well organized by a specific group. But here I can assume they did not know it or they didn’t care to find out.
As all deniers by nature, they, of course, do not accept to be affiliated to extreme far-right political parties or to support such ideologies.
They love to claim it is the spontaneous reaction by spontaneous people with a mindset “fists talk because the brain rests.”
And even if they claim they have no political or ideological connection to far-right groups, they all us the same arguments both on KTG website and FB Page. Copy paste. Both on Greek internet and here.
Also the three of the attackers captured by police as suspects for the attack claimed they did not belong to a ‘certain group’, that they attacked Boutaris being ‘swept away by the mob’.
The Mayor of Argos from New Democracy who posted “Boutaris deserved to be beaten because he is a TRAITOR [sic],” later blamed the administrator of his website and social media accounts for the post. A similar cheap excuse was used by a member of the city council in Kavala who also praised the attack and was forced to resign with a public apology.
But, hey! It was also the murder of Pavlos Fyssas who first denied any involvement with the Golden Dawn, until police investigation proved the opposite.
Freedom of Expression
A wide-spread argument by those who hailed and praised the support is that the mayor of Greece’s second biggest city, Boutaris has no right to express his own opinion if this does not comply with their own opinions.
This is being claimed by the same people who when it comes to “censorship on social media by using the God-given tool of BAN or removing/not allowing insulting comments on websites” they jump in disgust and claim their own right for Freedom of Expression.
Having run this blog since 2010 and having to deal with the economic crisis and the anti-Greek sentiment in Europe and elsewhere, I can write a whole book about reactionary, ‘anti-Greek’ commentators on my website and how they react when I have to intervene as comments moderator.
I have always allowed comments here and on the KTG social media accounts in the name of pluralism and respect of freedom of expression, yet, tolerance has also its limits, especially when those who are intolerant against people thinking differently attempt to exploit exactly this tolerance they hate.
I don’t and I won’t tolerate any totalitarian, fascist and reactionary crap one has in mind and minds, he/ she has to pour it on internet and make it public through the keyboard.
Not to mention, direct attacks on KTG with expressions I would blush to have to write them down, how much more to publish them.
Primitive instincts rule
Ultimately, the most shocking finding is that there is a part of people in Greece and else where who does not only approve violence, it also considers it as necessary when the other side acts “provocative” according to their opinion.
- These people have reached the unbelievably primitive point to believe that the only solution to deal with those expressing different opinions is beating, kicking, attacking, swearing and lowest level insults.
I don’t know if some people feel more comfortable to live in a jungle society where argument is not in form of dialogue but a simple punch in the face. I Don’t.
Whether they like it or not, Yiannis Boutaris has been elected to rule over Thessaloniki by a majority of its residents. They knew him for years, they knew what open-minded, progressive and forward-thinking Boutaris represents.
The arch conservative and ultra-nationalist part of the city has to live with him until the next elections. Democracy provides one with wonderful tools to get rid of politicians one does not like.
“Thessaloniki has to be the most democratic city in the world,” Boutaris said in a speech at the City Council on Monday and urged those who disagree to down vote him and his fraction in the next elections.
One does not have to agree with controversial and often provocative Yiannis Boutaris, but all have to condemn the attack no matter who committed it.
Lunch and his law are just around the corner.
“all have to condemn the attack no matter who committed it.” I totally agree with you KTG!
“The only thing the ultra-nationalists have not accused Boutaris so far is for the Fall of Constantinople in 1453” 😂😂😂
the only thing missing from this story are ‘yangos and vangos’…because the first thing i thought of seeing the mayor of saloniki on the ground was the murder of lambrakis in 1963 who was killed a few blocks away…
any rational person asks ‘where were the police’?
for me at least, things are quite clear. greece has a very rough side…as seen in the years of the civil war. there was NEVER any kind of ‘reconciliation’ process in greece – as we see today in numerous other countries (such as south africa and rwanda). the unspeakable violence of the civil war remained just that – as many parents (until today) refuse to discuss those bloody years with their children.
the long years of repression buried the hate, and the rise in the standard of living in years following the junta gave little impetus to look back at the dark days of the civil war (athens 2004!).
today, civil society is unravelling thread by thread. much like the world at large, the problem has remained untreated for so long, there is no easy answer to what needs be done. economic social justice would be a good start, but i see little hope of that in the future…
for foreigners to understand the ‘yangos & vaggos’ tramboukoi and deep state one needs to write another 1000 word piece.
I am a keen reader of your excellent online blog, which I greatly admire for its insightful, balanced and always interesting presentation of Greek and European news. As a UK and Italian citizen (born in the UK, having made Italy my home for the last 40 years, though also having lived in other countries during my lifetime), I am well aware that we all wish to create and jealously conserve a little nest to have as our own for ever. But… since time immemorial human beings have also shown a strong instinct to be wanderers, as any history book testifies.
And in fact, although I love having “a fixed abode”, I am a wanderer too! A few years ago, I “discovered” another country, which BEGAN TO CHANGE MY LIFE , bringing new interactive perspectives, acquaintances and conversations: a country with – so it seemed to me – friendly and intelligent people willing to talk and exchange ideas, beautiful landscapes, a spectacular archaeological heritage. It also offered a challenging language which (as a linguist by profession) I found absolutely fascinating – though so hard I am still a beginner, after four years of visits and Skype lessons when I am at home!
This country was, of course, GREECE! I decided to “give it a try”, by combining holidays in beautiful Greek locations with summer courses at excellent Greek language schools – eg. on the islands. I can honestly say that up until now it was all absolutely marvellous. Although I am aware of the situations that have involved Greece (and other Mediterranean countries) over the years and the centuries, I had trust in the capacity of the human mind to think and act rationally, aided by education that was often unavailable to previous generations. I assumed that in modern Western society we knew how to “think before you act”. I believed that normal people would not act like “yobs” or street gangs blindly thrashing others or behaving like hooligans.
But one need only glance at the British press to realise that the instinctive use of a KNIFE to inflict bodily harm on another person is an almost daily event in the UK, while the awful Thessaloniki events with the physical aggression against the mayor have shown that we are still at the stage of pre-history. If we fail to find a more rational lifestyle now, before it is too late, we may be thrust headlong into a primitive uncontrollable conflict.
What can we do, though, as individuals? Positive non-violent consciousness-raising action is needed. But how? Lifelong education to peace is the only way. Thus I believe your blog offers an excellent contribution by educating minds on the search for peace and by raising consciousness of the need for a non-violent response to the many challenges society faces. Your blog sends a vital message that prompts readers to think in depth so as to find the best non-violent course of action and to seek lasting peace.
Thank you for “Keep Talking Greece”.
thank you, Rachel, well said.